Monday, 13 February 2012

Global Cooldown & Community Q&A

Last week BioWare posted two articles, one taking a look at the upcoming changes to the cooldown UI and the other answering a number of questions from the community. Here is an excerpt from the first article:

Our UI team took this feedback to heart and worked up a solution which gives every player a lot more choices in how cooldown animations are displayed. If you're happy with the way the game currently looks, you can ignore these changes - but we think some of these preferences will be welcomed by many players.

Currently, these new preferences are scheduled to be added to the game in patch 1.1.4, which should be available for preview on the Public Test Server next week and deploying to the live servers soon afterwards.

Here's a screenshot of the new portion of the User Interface section of the Preferences menu which deals with cooldown settings, and some details on the options available to you.

I've had little trouble with the changes to the cooldown UI, but I know that a lot of people where unhappy with them. So for a lot of people these shoudl be welcome changes. And heck, I quite like the idea of adding a countdown text to the cooldowns so that I don't have to hover over skills with longer cooldowns to see how much longer I have to wait. Read the full description in BioWare's blog post.

Read on after the break for the Community Q&A, a few other bits and the developer quotes.

BioWare also promised to answer some questions from the community and instead of answering ten as they promised they answered fifteen instead. Here's one selection from the original fifteen:

Buddytonto: When you made the blog post about the balancing act of what to fix, what to balance, and when; got me thinking about how the items are prioritized, as it didn't really explain that?

Daniel Erickson: How we prioritize bugs is a complicated question and one that can be maddening from a player point of view. The answer is as complicated as the question but I can give a high level view. First comes anything that blocks the critical path of a class story for any reason. If you can’t progress, your game comes to a screeching halt so that always takes precedence. Next is the question: how many people are being affected and what is the damage being done? Half the population being slightly irritated loses in priority to ten percent of the population having their game crippled, for example. The last consideration, and the most opaque to players, is how hard the bug is to fix. There are fixes that look complicated and are nothing more than a database entry that went rogue. There are fixes that look easy and take months of untangling code. What we can promise is that we never ignore bugs or decide something is good enough as-is.

Having quite a bit of experience with fixing bugs myself I know full well that things often aren't as easy (or as difficult) as they seem. If their bugfixing works anything like I'm familiar with then bugs are assigned a priority class and are then assigned to whatever developer is responsible for fixing them. The developer in turn will have to make a call on how easy bugs are to fix and whether it's best to spend a lot of time fixing a few high-class bugs or if it's best to spend that time fixing a lot of lower-class bugs so as to get the overall bugcount down quickly. As such no bug should be forgotten as it'll be in the developer's list until they fix it (or pass it on to someone else), but it might take a while before they get around to it as they'll have plenty of other bugs to fix. Just keep reporting bugs when you run into them (if you haven't already reported them once).

Read the full Q&A for the rest of the questions. If there's one thing to take away from the Q&A then it's that patch 1.2 is going to be loaded full with goodies.

And speaking of goodies, Richie Branson has released a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed hip hop rap album titled "Cold Republic Episode I: The Empire Likes Rap" (thanks to Massively). Here's the description:

Sometimes the business of music can be so stressful, so it’s good to be able to take breaks and have fun with my creativity. Since the release of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’ve been glued to my computer levelling and kicking ass in huttball with my sith assassin “Branson” (check me out on the Ven Zallow RP-PVP server). When I heard the main theme music, I was inspired to sample it into a beat and record a song called “Cold Republic”. The song wasn’t really about Star Wars, but a lot of SWTOR players loved it (a lot hated it too). I then sampled a few more bits of SWTOR soundtrack and recorded some funny nerdcore songs about Star Wars and SWTOR. With that said, today I’m releasing this small collection of songs as a mixtape titled ”Cold Republic Episode I: The Empire Likes Rap”. Also included are the instrumental SWTOR beats I made for each song (as well as the “Skywalkin” beat produced by OVBeatz), in case people want to rap over the tracks themselves (or if they’re just not feeling my flow). Shoutout to Mark Griskey, the composer of a lot of SWTOR’s soundtrack. He’s been supporting the Cold Republic movement. Check out his official site! Also shoutout to Riley Hastings for filming in-game music videos to the songs. Check them out on his youtube channel SWTORLegit. Episode II might just happen if there’s enough demand for it. Maybe I’ll rep for the Republic classes out there :) Enough talk , download the mixtape HERE

DISCLAIMER: This SWTOR mixtape is by no means meant to be taken seriously, it’s just meant to be entertaining. Enjoy!

I must say that it's not my kind of music. I did listen to all the songs (though I skipped the instrumental versions). The parts I liked the best where the places where it was basically just the Old Republic music. And some of the lyrics are downright laughable. But ah well, at least he's having fun with the game and I'm sure that there are people who do like the songs.

And speaking of people liking things the website EGMNow has a review up of The Old Republic, giving it quite a high score. Here's an excerpt:

For those interested in the particulars: I played through the entire Jedi Consular storyline, raising my character to level 50. I tackled nearly every sidequest thrown my way, played through every available Flashpoint once, two Operations, and about half of the space battles. I maxed out two of my crafting skills, found about 10 Datacrons, and helped take out two World Bosses.

From a PvP standpoint, I tried each of the different Warzone modes and briefly visited Ilum; though, since I’m not really a PvP fan, I didn’t concentrate on this aspect. I also started a secondary character, a smuggler, but only leveled him to 10, never leaving the beginning planet. I quickly decided I didn’t want to keep playing on a dedicated Role-Playing server, which is when I left and started my Consular on a PvE server. I haven’t yet started a character on the Empire side of the conflict, and I haven’t played on a PvP server. In total, I’ve racked up nearly 150 hours of gameplay, wanting to experience everything the game had to offer before embarking on this review.

There's nothing really in the review that should surprise anyone and overall it's a decent enough review. I think that it's one of the more positive reviews that I've read with fairly little that they didn't like; even the few bad points they mention aren't considered that big (Ilum PvP having balance issues... but there's enough else to do). If you want to read a positive review then it might be worth reading, but beyond that you've likely read plenty of reviews (a number of which coming across as both more detailed and more critical).

Wait, did I just review a review?

To close off there's the developer quotes. BioWare said that they'd do their own summary blog today, but thought I might post this here anyway.

Also note that I'll be away for a couple of days this week (family matter), so things like the patch notes tomorrow and any big news that might break (not that I'm expecting any) will be reported a bit late.

Developer Quotes

  • [link] to Patrcik Malott on reverse engineering.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on patch notes differences.
  • [link] to Allison Berryman on patch notes differences, part 2.
  • [link] to Joveth Gonzalez on cooldown UI changes poll.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on cooldown UI changes poll.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on cooldown UI changes poll, part 2.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on cooldown UI changes poll, part 3.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on cooldown UI changes poll, part 4.

There wasn't really anything that I felt like lifting out; about the most interesting was that the reverse engineering return rates currently aren't working as they should, but that should be fixed in the next patch. And there's a fair bit on the cooldown UI, but I think that the plans as outlined in the blog covers most of that. So I'll leave it at that.

[link] to SWTOR rap at Richie Branson's site.
[link] to review at EGMNow.

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